Monday, June 29, 2009

Pic with Colin Powell

The office staff from the National Infantry Foundation and the National Infantry Association with Colin Powell after the museum ribbon cutting last week.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Just Work

I've been working, working, working the last week or two. Meeting with principals. Constructcing book lists for some of my clients. Trying to finish the book proposal I'm sending off next week. Getting through the next chapter revision of the art therapy book. So much to do before I leave for vacation! Maybe I'll get back to blogging next week.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Press Op With Colin Powell

Saying I'm a writer does not equate to saying I'm a journalist. I'm not a journalist. I'll never be a journalist. I don't shout out questions and demand answers. I don't fight to get to the front of the pack with my trusty little Nikkon CoolPix on which I can't always remember which setting works best.

Today however, I joined the press corps, turned on my recorder and snapped photos of Colin Powell from a distance of about six feet. It was a treat.
It was the official opening of the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Ga. It's an amazing place. State of the art exhibits that rival the best musuems in the country dedicated to the Infantry Soldier.

It was hot. As Gen. Powell said of his first army home, "It's not officially Columbus unless it's 95 degrees in the shade."

But hundreds of people braved the heat to watch the ribbon cutting ceremony and hear
Powell speak.

I don't know who made the cake shaped like the museum, but Gen. Powell and Gen. White cut it with a saber.

He's a very gracious man. It was a pleasure to take part in the ceremonies.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Learning to Learn

I spent two days this week at a Cornerstone Literacy conference for my local school district. I loaded up all my books and handouts and catalogs and set them up for principals and literacy coaches and teachers to peruse. It was a good time for making connections. And making connections is exactly what Cornerstone Literacy is all about.

They let me attend the sessions which focused on the literacy model. I was impressed with the program, which all the elementary schools in our district will embrace over the next few years.

The focus is to teach kids how to comprehend, to give them tools they can recognize for decoding meaning, to teach them how to think about what they're thinking. Metacognition is the big word for it, and they teach the kids in kindergarten that big word!

As a homeschool parent, one of the things I disliked about the public schoolroom, and the private school we were for involved with for a short time, was the amount of time wasted doing worksheets and other busy work that really didn't increase learning. This model looks so much like what we did in homeschooling. Although we didn't have the vocabulary to describe what we were doing, we tried to help our kids learn to think, not just regurgitate facts. That's what this model does. A teacher models what she's teaching, showing the kids how she thinks about this concept. She connects it with her own prior learning, called schema. Then she leads the kids in activities that allow them to do the same thing. They're connecting the text they read to their own experience and prior learning. They're reading with partners and discussing the concepts in face to face conversations. They are exploring the concepts with drawings and writing. They are comprehending as science, social studies and math are woven into the literacy framework.

I'm excited to see this happening here. I look forward to seeing the results. It's a huge change for teachers to embrace., but children in those classrooms are extremely blessed for it. These kids are learning how to learn. And we all know that's invaluable.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

In the Middle

I'm still reading through Nancy Kress' book, Beginnings, Middles, and Ends. This explanation of the middle is such a clear picture. The act of typing it out verbatim helps plant it firmly in my brain. And hopefully, it will inspire you to think about what's in your middle.

"The middle of a story develops the story's implicit promise by dramatizing incidents that increase conflict, reveal character, and put in place all the various forces that will collide at the story's climax. In other words, the middle is a bridge--sometimes a long, winding bridge, sometimes a short, direct one. At one end of the bridge, the story's beginning introduces characters, conflict and (sometimes) symbols. Then in the middle, these same characters, conflicts, and (sometimes) symbols move across the bridge, grouping themselves as they go into alliances and oppositions. Some people change during their journey across the bridge; some don't. Conflicts deepen. People become more emotional. The stakes may rise. By the time the characters reach the other end of the bridge, the forces determining their behavior are clear. At the far end of the bridge, these same forces will collide (the story's climax).

Unity in fiction depends on keeping everybody on the bridge. The forces developed in the middle must emerge naturally out of the characters and situation introduced at the beginning. In turn, the ending must make use of those same forces and conflicts, with nothing important left out and nothing new suddenly appearing at the last minute."

A great picture, isn't it? With lots of food for thought.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

No More Veggies!

Last month I blogged about my mother-in-law's garden. She gave me three tomato plants. My three tomato plants came out of the same six pack as her tomato plants. I planted my tomatoes the same day she planted her tomatoes.
So why are her tomato plants four feet tall and mine have only grown about two inches?

I don't know either, but I'm going back to flowers!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Some Very Cool Online Tools

These are some of the online tools that I have found helpful. I thought I'd share them.

Need a definition suited for a child? Try one of these online dictionaries for kids.

Keeping track of all your research? EasyBib is a great online tool. Type in your ISBN or your web address, click "autocite" and press "create citation." You can create multiple lists for your projects, all stored online.

Need to analyze the reading level of your manuscript. This is important in the educational market. The Lexile analyzer is a wonderful tool. You must register to use it, but there's no fee involve. You'll need to save your manuscript in a plain text document. Use the browse tool to find it on your computer, click analyze. You'll need a comparison chart to understand what the number means, but if you can get your words in the proper range, you'll generally be right on target with AR levels and Fountas and Pinnell Guided Reading Levels, too.

If you're looking for state standards, this website has links to all the state department of education websites. If you're looking for science, you can click on science, and then any state to find their science standards.